The waiting area at the Health Centre was full of parents with babies and children of different ages sitting on, under or walking around several forward-facing rows of bus-station-like seats.  When we arrived, we were given the number 21 on a little square of paper and thought we would probably be in for a long wait.  We sat down on the empty front row and admired the other babies, comparing ages, weights and feeding habits with the parents. Husband passed the time striking up conversation/banter with all and sundry.  A girl with her three-month-old baby girl in her arms, in answer to the comment “You’re very young, aren’t you?” replied: “I’m already 20!”  Well, yes, very young!

It was busier than the last time we’d been here because today was a “Vaccination Day” and we were here for the pneumococcus vaccine that Little One had missed out on two weeks earlier because the Health Centre hadn’t had it in stock.  Well, they didn’t have it for free but the nurse told us when we phoned the weekend before that we could buy it – from her? – for the bargain price of 800 pesos (about £40!)  What was going on there??  Thankfully it wasn’t necessary.  When we went to get the other vaccines, she assured us that they would definitely have the missing one on Vaccination Day.

While waiting - impromptu photo session

Husband hadn’t had breakfast and his eagle eyes spotted a delivery of tortas (sort of like bread rolls or baguettes) for the doctors from a place just down the road.  He got in on the act and ordered some for us, too.  We shared vaccination information (and had impromptu touristy photo session) with the couple behind us cradling a tiny 20-day-old boy wrapped up in a blanket.  They were waiting for the same set of shots that our Little One had been given at two months old, which seemed a bit strange.  They only had a photocopy of the vaccination record booklet, whereas we had been lucky to have been given an actual booklet – the nurse had just happened to have a spare one on our first visit, and had told us that they were very difficult to get hold of.  That first visit was when Little One was just 3 days old.  At the hospital where she was born, the pediatrician told us to get the first vaccinations, the BCG and Hepatitis B, within the first 5 days after the birth, and recommended going to a Health Centre, where it was free, rather than getting them done at the hospital which would have charged quite a lot. We turned up there on a Saturday morning after desperately trying to find a health centre that was open at the weekend, then were told to come back the next day when the nurse would be doing newborn vaccinations.  So we were back there on the Sunday; Little One obviously cried when she got the jabs, but didn’t seem to suffer any side effects.

The health system in Mexico has implemented an accelerated vaccination programme with the idea of making sure all babies and children are as protected as possible against diseases, as soon as possible, and also, perhaps, with the idea that it’s easier that way to keep track of which vaccines they’ve already had, and which ones are due next.  So the next set of vaccinations is at around two months old and is supposed to include four different vaccines.  Except for the one that was missing, in our case.

After the second visit, Little One showed more discomfort; the afternoon after getting the jabs she was restless, upset and crying more than usual.  We called the pediatrician who told us to give her Tempra (infant paracetemol) and a warm bath to help her relax.  That helped.  Being vaccinated is a traumatic experience for babies.

The couple with the 20-day-old boy went home without any vaccines – it turned out that someone had got mixed up and the baby still wasn’t due to be vaccinated – then it was our turn to go into the nurse’s office.  We handed over the all-important record booklet to Nurse Tere, who checked which vaccinations we were here for, then the weighing and measuring began.  Little One now weighed 5.3kg, which meant she had gained half a kilo in the two weeks since our last visit.  We had to lay her on the cushioned examination table, the vaccination was injected into her leg and a split-second later – face red and screwed up – her heart-wrenching cries filled the room.  Poor little thing.  She calmed down after a few minutes but she was a bit upset again later that afternoon.  The bath wasn’t such a relaxing experience either as she was crying most of the time, but perhaps the after effect of the bath was calming.  At least she slept well as she usually does during the night. 

The next set of vaccinations are the top-ups of the same a month later.  Actually, they’re due in about a week’s time now, so we’ve got to go through it all again.  I wonder if Little One will remember the previous stressful experience in that same office a month before.

I'm wondering that after reading an article called If dogs get stressed how about babies? by Gwen Dewar, Ph.D. which discusses stress and memory in babies, particularly in relation to medical visits (which can often be stressful events). There are loads more interesting articles on the Baby Center blog; I want to read them all, just not enough time!

Have just found the post I was looking for before (but forgot who had written it) about Vaccinations, Autism and the MMR from The Non-Adventures Of...  I have to admit, I haven't really questioned the need for immunisation, I think the benefits far outweigh the possible risks, which have mostly been discredited anyway.
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  1. You're right- the benefits far outweigh the risks and the supposed MMR autism link has been thoroughly studied and debunked. The doctor who first came iut with it was proved to have lied and fudged numbers, convicted of fraud and stricken off the medical register. None of my kids ever had more than a short moment of pain, thankfully. Breastfeeding during the shot helps too if you are bf :)

    1. Yes, I think I heard about that doctor. So far my daughter hasn't suffered any ill effects from vaccinations either. This post is actually quite an old one, now she's just over a year old and it's time for another set of vaccinations!

  2. Thanks for sharing your experience. My kids all coped well with their vaccinations. Thanks for linking to the #BlogFairLinkParty at